Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kristy's Hot Chocolate (Cocoa)

In October, when my sister was visiting, she perfected this recipe. It's great when you have a crowd for cocoa. In fact, we had one yesterday when all the kids were playing in the snow. This is decadent and delicious despite a relatively small amount of sugar. Dutch cocoa would work best for this, but regular old Hershey's cocoa works well. As a side note I've been saying on my blog that Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa is dutch cocoa. Turns out it's a blend of natural and dutch cocoas. I recently tried it and it's flavor is weird. It's not terrible, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Kristy's Hot Chocolate

3/8 c (6T) sugar
3 T natural (regular) cocoa
heaping T dutch cocoa
1/3 c water
good pinch of salt

4 c milk (I use 1%, but whole milk would be even better.)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Combine the first four ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and cook until dissolved.
2. Add milk and heat to temperature. I'd suggest just below a boil.
3. Stir in vanilla just before serving.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oyster Crackers with Dill and Ranch

This is a more recent family tradition. We've been making these off and on since the late 80's. I think next year I may look for a different kind of cracker to make this with, something whole wheat. The oyster crackers are a bit blah as a cracker base. I do love this spice combo. This recipe is from my Dad's Aunt Mavis. I reduced the amount of oil.



1/8 (2 T)cup oil

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp dill weed

1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing

1 pkg. Oyster crackers

Warm the oil. Drizzle some of the oil over the crackers. Stir. Drizzle, stir, drizzle, stir until most of the crackers are coated. Add the spices and stir.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Doughnuts and Rosettes

Last week I went to "Santa Claus Day" down at the town hall. The local Lions club serves a pancakes and sausage breakfast. The Lutheran choir (of about 10 people) sang carols. Later that day Santa came. Each child told Santa what they wanted for Christmas and then received a paper bag full of candy and peanuts in the shell. I actually went home before that. I got a ride downtown to the hall from someone who lives out of town and there was a big blizzard. In fact this is the third weekend in a row where there was a blizzard and 40 below wind chill. Lovely. I assume Santa Claus Day continued the same way as usual. It's been the same for 30 years. . I bought these doughnuts and rosettes from the Lutheran bake sale. The doughnuts were a blast from the past from my childhood. They are the yeast doughnuts you used to be able to get at a small town cafe. Small town cafe's still make doughnuts, but they tend to be too greasy now and just not as good. Not these doughnuts though. They were amazing. Perfect texture and flavor. One day I'll learn to make them. The rosettes I remember from my childhood too. A rosette shaped iron is dipped into batter and then deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. My grandma used to make them. I think they are either Swedish or Norwegian.
*I deleted a few sentences from this blog since I'm not sure they were true. What can I say. It's a few days before Christmas and I'm tired.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tomato Soup from Canned Tomatoes

I don't know if it's Campbell's tomato soup has changed or if my taste has changed. But,is seems as if the Campbell's tomato soup is a whole lot sweeter then it used to be. It also tastes a whole lot like corn syrup. I've mused over the idea of making soup from canned tomatoes for a few years. Then I came across this post with general instructions. I had to give it a try. This is the recipe I came up with.
See also my recipe for tomato soup from fresh tomatoes.

Tomato Soup from Canned Tomatoes

oil to saute
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
3 14.5 oz cans tomatoes
1 15 oz can vegetable or chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
2 c milk

In a dutch oven, saute onion and garlic in oil over medium high heat until soft. Add tomatoes, broth, salt and honey. Simmer 45 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Add milk. Heat until warm. Serve. You can freeze leftovers.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chili and Vegetarian Chili

A few years ago they had a chili cook off at the local bar during a football game. I wasn't aware this was happening before I got there or I would have brought a crock pot full. While I was sampling the chili I pondered this question "Which chili would the local, mostly farmer, crowd find least offensive? My chili with TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein), my sister's chili with Bulgar wheat, or my *no rules* sister's chili with green peas." I still sometimes ponder this years later. Now I make my vegetarian chili with Bulgar wheat in place of the hamburger. I ran out of TVP and didn't want to buy more just for chili. The vegetarian chili also omits the Worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire contains a small amount of anchovies. It's a stealthy non vegetarian ingredient.
I recommend using the Penzy's medium hot chili powder. I recently switched to Penzy's chili powder. It changed the chili I've been making for maybe 20 years from good to fantastic. If you order online, I suggest you get the spices in bags rather then the glass jars. It's a better value.
Try this with my cornmeal muffins and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. This recipe is adapted from "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American".

Chili (pictured)
1 lb lean hamburger
2 T oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 T chili powder or to taste (I prefer Penzy's medium hot chili powder)
1 T cumin
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 28 oz (or two 15 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
1 green pepper, chopped
2 15 oz cans kidney beans
salt to taste

Brown hamburger in the oil along with onion, garlic, and chili powder. Drain any excess fat. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring 1 1/2 hours. The chili is much better the second day.

Vegetarian Chili
2 T oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 T chili powder or to taste (I prefer penzy's medium chili powder)
1 T cumin
1 28 oz (or two 14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
1 green pepper, chopped
2 15 oz cans kidney beans
1 15 oz can water
1/2 c Bulgar wheat
salt to taste

Saute the onion, garlic and chili powder in the oil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring 1 1/2 hours. The chili is much better the second day.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Apple Sauce and Cranberry Ginger Applesauce

I had a ton of apples from my tree this year. So, I decided to try my hand at applesauce. First, I made the unsweetened apple sauce. This was quite good, but a bit flat for my taste. I made several batches for baby food for all the babies I know. I didn't add lemon or fruit fresh since I'm not up on the current baby feeding rules. The recipe is from this post.

In the second recipe I added a mere 1/4 c sugar and a cinnamon stick. This took the applesauce from very good to spectacular. I'm still not a huge fan of the texture of applesauce, but I really like this version. I plan to serve it with potato pancakes for breakfast over Christmas vacation.

The cinnamon ginger applesauce is good also. I cut the amount of sugar way down from the original recipe. My family is a huge fan of tart. I may cut the sugar down even more next time. 1 used 1 T ginger as called for in the original recipe. The ginger was a bit too pronounced for my personal taste, so I cut the amount in half in the recipe below. If you prefer sweeter applesauce with more ginger (as I suspect many people would) check out the original post on Pinch My Salt. If you want to get all Martha Stewart you could serve the cranberry applesauce with my sweet potato pancakes (without the spices).

***Instead of coring and cutting the apples into pieces, I used an apple/corer/slicer/peeler. The peeling part of my machine hasn't worked for years. That's not a problem since the food mill filters out the peels anyway. Once the apples are sliced, make one cut down the apples to make apple circles. If you own one of these machines, that will make sense to you. If you have an apple tree, the corer/slicer/peeler is a worthwhile investment.

Apple Sauce (unsweetened)

10-12 lbs of apples or enough to fill a 12 quart stock pot, cored and chopped
1/2 c water
lemon juice or fruit fresh (optional to prevent browning)

Place ingredients in a stock pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes. Stir several times to move the top apples to the bottom. When the apples are soft, it's done. Run the contents through a food mill and discard the solids.

Cinnamon Apple Sauce
10-12 lbs of apples or enough to fill a 10-quart stock pot
1/2 c water
1/4 c sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 T lemon juice (or fruit fresh in an undetermined amount)

Place all ingredients in the stock pot with the cinnamon stick on the bottom. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir the apples several times to move the bottom apples to the top. As it cooks, the apples will release more water. When all the apples are soft, it is done. Remove cinnamon stick and run the contents of the pot through a food mill. Discard the solids left in the food mill.

Cranberry Ginger Apple Sauce
4-5 lbs baking apples, quartered and cored (or use the apple/corer/peeler)
1/2 c water
1 T lemon juice
1 12 oz package of cranberries
1/2 c sugar
1/2 T grated ginger
pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a dutch oven. Bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer 30 minutes. Stir the applesauce a few times, moving the top apples to the bottom. When the apples are mushy it is done. Run everything through the food mill. Discard the peels left in the food mill.